AHRC TV: UN wants to strengthen ASEAN’s human rights mechanism and other stories in JUST ASIA, Episode 197

This week Just Asia begins with the ninth ASEAN-UN Summit on Monday, where United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the UN wants to work with ASEAN to strengthen the regional bloc’s human rights body. This comes as several ASEAN countries face human rights related controversies. Particularly troubling is Burma’s violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority, which the UN has dubbed as “ethnic cleansing”. Just Asia speaks to Bijo Francis, AHRC’s Executive Director, for his thoughts on ASEAN’s human rights mechanism.

Next, in India’s Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Chandrashekhar Ravan remains in custody despite the Allahabad High Court granting him bail in all the cases registered against him on 2 November 2017. Ravan is in custody because the government has registered a case against him under the provisions of the draconian National Security Act 1980, which allows for ‘preventive detention’. Meanwhile, Mr. Ravan’s health is rapidly deteriorating, although he was completely healthy at the time of his arrest in June 2017.

In Nepal, a former employee of the National Human Rights Commission, Mr. Kosh Raj Neupane, has authored a defamatory article against Ms. Mohna Ansari, a current Commission member, with false accusations. The campaign against Ms. Ansari is aimed to put down emerging civil rights activists, particularly those from marginalized communities, and those who have publicly expressed opinions that may not be pleasing to the incumbent government and its supporters.

Over the last week or so, India’s capital city of New Delhi has been engulfed by severe smog. The city saw the pollution reaching emergency levels of over 800 plus on November 8. People in Delhi have complained of respiratory problems, burning in the eyes and long term health effects. On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a notice seeking expeditious government action in the matter of crop burning, which is seen to be one of the main reasons for the severe spike in pollution.

In Indonesia, families commemorated the November 1998 Semanggi shooting of students this week. They held a black Thursday demonstration in front of the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, and organized a public movie screening at the Jakarta Legal Aid Office. More than 19 years since former dictator Suharto stepped down in 1998, successive governments have failed to bring the case to court and prosecute the perpetrators.

Finally, the Urgent Appeals Weekly features two cases from India and Indonesia.

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